Pinnacol Chairman Ken Ross Explodes on Camera

You’ve got to see this report from 7NEWS’ Tony Kovaleski to believe it, folks:

Gov. Bill Ritter called a trip by three Pinnacol Assurance board members “ill-advised,” and there is now a bipartisan call for board resignations after a CALL7 investigation exposed a five-day luxury trip by Pinnacol staff and members of the governor-appointed board.

CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski followed Pinnacol board members to Pebble Beach in mid-May, showing them accepting pricey golf fees, expensive rooms and luxury food and drinks apparently at Pinnacol’s expense.

After reviewing the hidden-camera video, Sen. Morgan Carroll, who headed a committee looking into Pinnacol business practices last year, called for board Chairman Gary Johnson and board members Debra Lovejoy and Ryan Hettich to resign after taking the trip, saying it violated their independence as an oversight board. Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, in a phone interview also said the board members who went on a trip need to resign…

Other members of the judiciary committee, which approved Ritter’s reappointment of Johnson and Hettich, also were outraged by the trip and the reaction of Pinnacol Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross.

“I’m very disappointed that the Pinnacol board chose to behave like they did, particularly coming off the heels of the legislative session we have just been through,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver.

Steadman said he was also surprised that Ross would be so upset about cameras capturing his golf outing when Pinnacol private investigators use hidden cameras to try to track people on worker’s compensation when Pinnacol believes are faking injuries. He pointed out Pinnacol opposed a bill that would have limited their use of tracking workers with cameras.

The appearances of this swanky expenses-paid trip to Pebble Beach are absolutely bad enough, but you have to watch the video of Kovaleski’s report (unfortunately 7NEWS’ video playback is not embeddable)–in it you’ll see Pinnacol CEO Ken Ross attempt to physically assault Kovaleski several times, having to be restrained by assistants and ultimately led away from the scene. He threatened to break Kovaleski’s finger on camera. We don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like it this side of the Jerry Springer Show or an episode of Cops: and this is the man who swaggers into the legislature each year to insist he doesn’t need oversight?

If an incident like this, enough to unite such diverse figures as Sens. Morgan Carroll and Scott Renfroe in calls for board members’ heads to roll, isn’t enough to force the legislature to get control of this “quasi-public entity” in a meaningful way next year, we honestly don’t know what will.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Earnest says:

    It doesn’t suprise me that he inspires physical assault.  But Ross went way over the top.  

  2. allyncooper says:

    I attended some of the Pinnacol interim committee hearings last year (reported here on Pols) and the arrogance displayed by Pinnacol’s management, including Ken Ross, was disgusting. It’s incredulous they would allow this type of junket paid for by Pinnacol policy holders when they were scrutinized for just such behavior at those hearings.

    Pinnacol needs a house cleaning of board and management, with Ken Ross given a one way ticket back to New York.  

  3. Danny the Red (hair) says:

    Channel 7 should get a better video process.

  4. The realist says:

    Now, would the legislature please try to explain why they let this go this session?!!  What an embarrassment.  Quasi-public agency means our state government shares in the responsibility for this.  Enough already.

    • Danny the Red (hair) says:

      It was a great session for injured workers.

      However, sometimes it is not enough.

    • redstateblues says:

      Pinnacol tried to get the legislature to back off by offering it some measly amount of money ($20 million for a $1 billion asset or something to that effect.)

      The legislature can pick it up next session assuming the Democrats hold onto the majority. The Republicans–Renfroe anyway–don’t like the idea of Pinnacol’s executives going on luxury trips, but they are steadfast in their opposition to the state taking back some of the money Pinnacol has hoarded. One of the prices that we pay for having a part-time GA is that they can only get so much done in the short time span.  

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    The CBMS mess led to a child dying – no one fired.

    Pinnacol pulls this crap – no one fired.

    Dept of Revenue can’t tell businesses when they should collect taxes for common cases – no one fired.

    Erin Toll aggressively goes after slimy mortgage dealers – fired.

  6. RedGreen says:

    I love how he refers to himself in the third person in his stories, especially when something like this happens:

    “You point your finger at me again, and I’m going to break it,” Ross said while pointing his finger at Kovaleski. He turned to the camera and demanded that it be turned off.

  7. ohwilleke says:

    Way to nail the hidden camera point.  I’m glad that he is my state senator.

  8. BlueCat says:

    Another trip in the Way Back machine?

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